If you ask Anjney Midha what he’s working on he’s likely to give you a multifaceted answer: Discovering emerging technology (think computer vision and digital health), developing a side virtual reality project, programming, and supporting founders.
Despite his official title being Founding Partner of Edge, Anjney is far from your typical venture investor. Similarly, Edge, which is backed by Kleiner Perkins, operates more akin to a startup than a traditional fund.
Founded in June 2015, Edge is a “group of investors that spends part of their time investing in six areas - blockchain technology, computer vision, digital health, drones, mobile marketplaces, and virtual reality - and the rest of their time building software for the founders that they invest in."
After attempting to raise capital while attending Stanford, Anjney recognized a severe disconnect in venture capital.
His partner Roneil Rumburg and he spent two months setting up their first meeting with a VC only for it to be canceled an hour before. Roneil is now a partner at Edge.
“We would show up, and they’d be half an hour late and on their phones. They barely paid attention because we were students.”
“Then they would go on to say how they would build the company, even if they had never built one before; At least, not as students.”
“It was a fundamental realization for me how painful it is for founders to raise money; Especially from folks who have never been in their shoes before,” Anjney declared.
We want to be the investors that we would have wanted when we were raising money.
With that in mind, founder-friendly terms, inherent accessibility, and tangible contributions are the core theses grounding Edge.
From 30-minute pitch meetings to the firm’s 72-hour decisions, and the fact that they spend more time building software than investing, the most special part Anjney, Roneil, and their third partner Ruby Lee is that they live their values.
Especially for founders who are working in Edge’s six uncharted focus areas time is precious.
“The investment process for us, from start to to finish, is usually one short 30 - 40-minute meeting.”
The three partners then make a decision to follow up in under 72 hours, enabling founders to get back to building their businesses.
“That’s the best part, letting a company know as soon as possible. It’s the most that you can do to be respectful of their time.”
A quick no is much better than a drawn out maybe. Founders should be building their companies, not waiting around.
Before investing, Anjney asks himself a single, but telling question: “Do I personally want to work for this founder?”
The question unveils multiple facets of an investment decision. Most importantly, it signifies belief, passion, and respect.
When Edge partners with a startup - They’ve made five investments so far - they possess “the most founder-friendly terms in the industry:” Uncapped notes with no pro-rata or information rights, required board seats, or governance clauses.
You can see their open source note here.
To advance the startups they’re working with and cultivate a true understanding of their work, Anjney, Ruby, and Roneil spend three days coding and two days investing every week.
The best way to understand something is to try to build it yourself.
Among their first projects was Office Hours: The simplest way for founders to communicate with investors.
Office Hours is a private messaging app that gives you direct access to the Edge partners.
Investors are notoriously slow at getting back to founders. We said, ‘Let’s go fix that.’
Anjney, Ruby, and Roneil spend two continuous hours on the app each week in addition to checking throughout the day.
Often, a single venture partner joins a startup’s board where he or she only spends time with the founder and CEO.
“There is a whole other team that can benefit form relationships with the venture firm,” Anjney explained.
With Office Hours, “anyone can ping us directly, right there in the Slack channel.”
The app was so well received by Edge’s portfolio companies that they opened it to all founders.
It changed the fundamental way that portfolio companies interact with investors.
The team's future plans for Office Hours include hosting additional guests with specific areas of expertise.
You can learn more about Office Hours in the team’s Medium post.
While I deeply valued my entire conversation with Anjney, my favorite part was his response to the most simple question I asked him: What gets you excited?
“Changing the future,” he declared.
“There is nothing more we can ask for than being able to shape the future we all live in. Not only for ourselves but for all of the future generations.”
We believe the areas we’re investing in will have a transformative effect on the nature of the world.
To find out how the Edge team is investing in life changing startups tune into Anjney’s interview and follow their posts on Medium and Twitter to gain deeper insight into why they’re committed to each one of their focus areas.
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